Saturday, December 13, 2008

Save the Economy: End Prohibition

At the end of the First Great Depression (1929-1933), the U.S. federal government ended the so-called Noble Experiment, known by most today as Prohibition. It was a shrewd move. Banning the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol did not end the consumption of alcohol in the United States, not by a long shot, but it did decrease the quality and increase the cost of what alcohol was consumed (after existing stocks were depleted). Worse, the policy was a boon to organized crime and wasted huge amounts of police resources. Ending Prohibition freed up human capital to engage in more productive pursuits and stimulated investment in legal alcohol production and distribution.

Here at the beginning of the Second Great Depression (2007-??) the government ought to end its long, expensive War on Drugs. We simply can't afford to continue the fight, no matter how noble some think it. Like prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of marijuana and other controlled substances has decreased their quality and increased their price without coming close to ending their consumption. Legalization would free up a non-trivial amount of police resources and stimulate investment in the production and distribution of hash, cocaine, and so forth. It might not be enough to save the economy, but at least we can get high safely and legally until it improves.


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Mark said...

Makes perfect sense, though I shudder at the thought of what similarly-minded folks in DC will trade in to get something like this passed. Legal marijuana, sure. Homosexuals and women will need a little hash to get them through the loss of their basic human rights (marriage & choice, to name a few) that will inevitably be sacrificed in the deal.